There has been a lot of offseason chatter about the anticipated improvement of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as he enters his third season. While his numbers have yet to show that he will be an elite NFL quarterback, the one aspect of his game that can’t be denied is that he wins games.
Sure, a lot of those wins haven’t been the direct result of Bridgewater leading the team down the field late, but he didn’t make the destructive play that killed a game for his team. There is no stat that should be more important regarding the success of a quarterback than how many times he wins games.
Bridgewater has won 17 of his 28 career starts (60.7 percent of his starts). The only quarterbacks with more starts and a better winning percentage are Tom Brady (77 percent win percentage), Russell Wilson (72 percent), Aaron Rodgers (67 percent) Ben Roethlisberger (67 percent), Andy Dalton (65 percent) Andrew Luck (64 percent), Joe Flacco (62 percent) and Tony Romo (61 percent).
Those eight quarterbacks at some point or another in their careers have been touted as being among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL and it should be noted that Bridgewater has a better record through 28 starts than Rodgers (15-13).
Of those quarterbacks, it can be argued that only Brady and Rodgers have enjoyed their long-term winning success without a strong running game behind them.
Of those eight, five of them have at least one Super Bowl win to their credit and the other three – Dalton, Luck and Romo are viewed as quarterbacks whose lone missing career resume point is a Super Bowl playoff run. But at the beginning of just about every one of their NFL seasons, their teams are in the discussion for the Super Bowl and their individual success if tantamount to those predictions of team success.
In most comparable quarterback stats, you haven’t found Bridgewater at or even near the top. He doesn’t throw 40 passes a game. He doesn’t hit 300 yards all that often. But he keeps adding wins to his total. He’s doing the right things enough to win and, for early in a player’s career, nothing is more important.
Players like Luck, Dalton and Matt Ryan have enjoyed a lot of regular season success, but have failed in the playoffs – too often being on the wrong end of a one-and-done scenario in January. If that’s the worst you can say about a quarterback – he wins division titles, gets you to the playoffs and you’re in the mix to go the Super Bowl – that’s not too shabby.
Bridgewater has achieved more than his contemporaries who have been drafted over the past three years when it comes to wins. Blake Bortles is getting a lot of preseason buzz about being the next big thing. Johnny Manziel is getting a lot of preseason buzz about being the next big cautionary tale. Bridgewater is quietly getting the job done.
Depending on how long you believe Adrian Peterson will remain a member of the Vikings – or how long he will remain the most consistently dominant running back in the league – the time is going to come when the Vikings offense is going to have to install Bridgewater as the centerpiece.
The best thing he has going for him is that few quarterbacks – and the majority of them have rings – have a better record at this point in his career as Bridgewater does. Keeping in mind that drafting a quarterback in the first round is a “tell” that you don’t like your current situation. Some of the best quarterbacks in NFL history took a lot more lumps early in their careers than Bridgewater has. In some cases, they pulled their teams up and became legends. In other cases, they flamed out and were never heard from again.
Bridgewater has made it through the worst part of the young QB minefield and has put himself in pretty tight company with those who win at the same rate as he does.
Long-term, Bridgewater is going to have to step up and be the player the Vikings are projecting. But considering his small sample-size success, there’s no reason to think he can’t be the player the Vikings envisioned he would be.
The worst of Teddy is likely over. The best may well be yet to come.